January 19, 2005

Tales from the Front

A friend in Baghdad writes in....after a bloody day of suicide bombings in the capital city:

“We, we lucky few.” -Henry Vth

Zarqawi destroyed my house this morning. I suppose I shouldn’t take this personally as it wasn’t actually my house, rather one leased by my employer for the accommodation of me and a dozen or so colleagues, but I liked the place. More importantly, and amazingly, no one inside was hurt. I am very, very happy about that. But I am also now personally pissed at Zarqawi.

[name omitted] saved me by stealing the shower before I could turn around from my desk and beat him to the door. I was irritated when he did it, but thankful to him after the fact, because I was shaving around the corner, later than usual, and not at my desk when the car-bomb hit. It comes first as a hollow crack, with force, that makes you instinctively turn away. Then comes a hail of shattered glass. And then comes screaming from somewhere unknown, amidst smoke and a ringing silence, with the confusing imperative to do something, followed by common sense dictating the need to put on some clothes, boots, passport, whatever, and to go find out—where the screaming is coming from, where is everyone else. [name omitted] desk was covered by a curtain, he didn’t answer, but barefoot on broken glass it comes instinctively that you need the boots to do anything else. The smoke and confusion clear—not necessarily in that order. Then something strange happens, and it may have to do with the divine luck of non-casualty. You’re alive, others are alive, and the bad guys failed. More powerful than fear, your blood pumps with the joyousness of survival.

The screaming was [name omitted], the house-boy, and he’s o.k. Moments before the blast, he had delivered three hard-boiled eggs to my desk (which I discovered once I found a pair of gloves and started rooting through the mess for salvageable electronics and scraps of paper bearing names or numbers), and moments ago he delivered us pizza, to our new, less hospitable quarters on the floor of the office, proving that life goes on. And [name omitted] a nice guy. It was his house as much as it was anyone’s that Zarqawi wrecked.

The weird thing was this: when the silence reigned long enough to become dominant, and was the replaced by the quieter resurgence of morning traffic, and we were let out of the safe room to collect essential belongings and hit the streets, then I saw those streets, those quiet, usually empty streets, filled with children playing. As if soaking in the exhuberance of life’s extended lease (or the closure of the local school), parents allowed their children to frolic freely in the road, under the brilliant sun. I’d never seen so many kids on that particular street. Someone has to live here.

According to witnesses, the truck-bomber jumped out of his vehicle of destruction and into a waiting car. Not exactly old school. Ten days and counting.

Game on, asshole.

I think I understand his emotion. And here's hoping he gets to soak "in the exuberance of life's extended lease" as many more times as needed before his time there ends.

Posted by Gregory at January 19, 2005 11:45 PM

"Game on, asshole"?

What a dork.

Posted by: Michael at January 20, 2005 05:23 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Is this the same friend with the story from the checkpoint a few months back? The writing style seems familiar - and captivating at that. Good luck and safe passage to him.

Posted by: Eric Martin at January 20, 2005 11:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

same guy eric. thax for your comment. i'm happy he made it, obviously.

Posted by: greg at January 21, 2005 12:49 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

speaking of assholes, michael seems to be one--and big time. this guy almost died. spare him a dorky sentence or two you creep.

Posted by: jj at January 21, 2005 03:49 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I had a couple of "dorky sentence" moments myself while I was over there. Drove through a HUGE Sadr rally in Baghdad the day before his militia went bad (in April) and had a vehicle shot out from under me outside Fallujah. I think we should be excused one dorky comment per potentially lethal experience. Does that sound fair...?

Posted by: Tim at January 21, 2005 01:16 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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